The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has announced that the French police and intelligence services have identified 15,000 people across France who are either ‘radicalised’ or in the process of becoming radical.
In response to this Nicolas Sarkozy (who is of course in campaigning mode) has given an interview to Journal du Dimanche in which he has said that anybody who ‘regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behaviour shows signs of radicalisation or because is in close contact with radicalised people, must be pre-emptively placed in a detention centre.’
This is an interesting step-up in rhetoric from the former President, but very far from being a policy. Not least because who do you deem to be in ‘close contact’ with somebody who is radicalised? Here in the UK Anjem Choudary has just gone to prison. One might well deem his wife and children to have been in ‘close contact’ with him over the years. I very much doubt that any of them are liberal (in the true sense of the word) or democrats (in any sense of that word). So what, were the Choudarys in France instead of Britain, would a returned President Sarkozy do with them?
Instead of allowing grandstanding points like this to stand, I hope the French press will now demand of the former President not only why he never did anything like this when he was in power, but what precisely he means. What is the actual flesh on such a policy? Unless politicians like Sarkozy get specific then this tough rhetoric just appears to be old red-meat fed to an increasingly weary nation which has heard it all before. What France – and Britain – rarely hear from such politicians is precisely what they intend to do and who qualifies for such treatment.